Thursday, December 5, 2013

PF January 2014 - Sahel Aid - Con Position


Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.

(Part one of this analysis is available here.)

"The world must advance the causes of security, development and human rights together, otherwise none will succeed. Humanity will not enjoy security without development, it will not enjoy development without security, and it will not enjoy either without respect for human rights."
(former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan; 2005)


Con Position

Con enjoys favorable ground for this resolution.  Debaters may choose to argue that development assistance and military aid should be given equal priority or military aid should be made the leading priority.  Either way, the evidence for both positions is copious.  The Sahel is a hotbed of clashing ideologies and cultures, with a generous mix of western exploitation.While Sahel is not a well-known resource-rich area, nevertheless it does have oil, uranium, iron ores and other mineral resources that are attracting lots of attention from Europe facing peak-oil concerns in Saudi Arabia and North Africa.  The attempts by western European countries to establish cooperative agreements with nations in the Sahel is being challenged by other groups, empowered by fairly sophisticated weaponry looted from Libya's collapsed government.  The region is awash with armed insurgents and "strong men" seeking power, influence and wealth.  Trapped in the middle of this struggle, are a very poor, often-starving population trying to survive in the face of detrimental global climate changes.

Security Before Development

It seems pointless to many, to invest development assistance in a region which is politically unstable and lacking essential security.  A perfect example of the folly of pushing development before security is seen in the USAID project to build the Gardez-Khost Highway in Afghanistan through a politically unstable region. (see a link to the original NY Times story here.) The cost of the project is expected to over-run by nearly 300%, is months behind schedule and has been hindered by over 300 attacks and road-side bombs.

Fiott, et al, 2013:
Before any longer-term focus on economic development, political inclusion and government accountability can be achieved in the region the immediate concern is restoring security. Without security there can be no sustainable political and economic development – but security will depend on a legitimate political process. While the French prevented a bad situation from getting much worse through Operation Serval, the immediate military phase is about ensuring security while the French withdraw militarily from the country. French military withdrawal from Mali raises many questions about whether AFISMA is able to fill the security vacuum that will be left. One must also question the Malian army’s abilities to regain full control of the North of the country, and whether they will be prepared to engage rebel groups if they resort to asymmetric tactics. Indeed, the Malian government and security forces should not assume that Operation Serval has secured Mali for good.
Much of the threat to development in the region arises from the jihadist groups which have taken their fight against western interests in the Sahel where they can operate and thrive in the no-man's land created by weak governance.

EEAS, 2013:
In few areas is the inter-dependence of security and development more clear. The fragility of governments impacts on the stability of the region and the ability to combat both poverty and security threats, which are on the rise. Poverty creates inherent instability that can impact on uncontrolled migratory flows. The security threat from terrorist activity by Al-Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM), which has found a sanctuary in Northern Mali, is focussed (sic) on Western targets and has evolved from taking money to taking life, discouraging investment in the region. AQIM resources and operational capacities are significant and growing. Deteriorating security conditions pose a challenge to development cooperation and restrict the delivery of humanitarian assistance and development aid, which in turn exacerbates the vulnerability of the region and its population. 

Building On Quicksand

According to the evidence, jihadist groups are opposing western presence in the region and attempting to discourage development.   As long as terror groups continue to target western interests, going in and building infrastructure and investing money and time would be a lot like building a house on quicksand.

Arieff 2013:
Prior to French intervention, regional and Western leaders had warned of a rising threat to international security associated with an expansion of AQIM’s influence and scope of operations in Mali, a possible spread of violent extremist ideology, and state fragmentation. The main armed Islamist groups in the north—AQIM, Ansar al Deen (or, Ansar al Dine, “Defenders of the Faith”), and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA, a.k.a. MUJAO after its French acronym)—appear to coordinate their actions and share personnel. Reports of foreign fighters from elsewhere in Africa and beyond have heightened concerns, as have reported links between the extremists and transnational smuggling networks, including drug traffickers.

International Partners in Crime

The links between jihadi extremists and transnational criminal groups has been a major concern of the U.S. and Western powers in general.  There is evidence that much of the cocaine and other forms of narcotics making its way into Europe originates from Mexican and South American cartels and is funneled through groups in the Sahel.

EEAS 2013:
An urgent and a more recent priority is to prevent AQIM attacks in the Sahel region and its potential to carry out attacks on EU territory, to reduce and contain drug and other criminal trafficking destined for Europe, to secure lawful trade and communication links (roads, pipelines) across the Sahel, North-South and East-West, and to protect existing economic interests and create the basis for trade and EU investment. Improving security and development in Sahel has an obvious and direct impact on protecting European citizens and interests and on the EU internal security situation. It is therefore important to ensure and strengthen coherence and complementarity between internal and external aspects of EU security.
The need for an a strong criminal justice system in the area is a major concern of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

UNODC 2013:
Representatives from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco and Niger met last week in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to agree on areas of cooperation for the next four and a half years to address the interconnected problems of drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism that have plagued the region for the last decade. During a two-day long discussion, delegates agreed on a number of measures as part of a UNODC response strategy for the Sahel. Speaking at the meeting in Ouagadougou Dr. J√™rome Bougouma, Minister for Territorial Administration and Security in Burkina Faso, welcomed the support given to the "UNODC Contribution to the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel" as a crucial step in kick starting the implementation of technical cooperation efforts in the region. "Terrorism, drug trafficking, and transnational organized crime are the main reasons why the crisis that started two years ago in the Sahel has deteriorated further and caused the citizens of the region to live in insecurity and even be displaced", Dr. Bougouma said. 

Armed and Dangerous

The extremists group functioning in the region are not "light-weights".  Many are returnees from several years of fighting and limited war in Libya and other regional conflicts in the so-called Arab Spring.  In addition many of them are well-equipped and well armed.  

Arieff 2013:
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated on January 13 that the duration of French operations was “a question of weeks.” At the same time, news reports have indicated that the extremist insurgents are better trained and equipped than French forces anticipated. In addition, given that the Malian military is internally divided, lacks the capacity to effectively project force, has been implicated in human rights abuses, and is very small (totaling some 7,000 troops prior to the defections and military defeats of the past year), it is uncertain whether Malian forces will be able to effectively follow up on French military strikes by securing and holding territory. In a radio interview, Oumar Ould Hamaha, a Malian insurgent commander who has been associated with all three main Islamist extremist groups in the north, threatened France with “a trap which is much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan, or Somalia.”

Meeting the Need

The nations in the region are poorly equipped and under trained.  This makes them weak and ineffective at projecting force necessary to secure their domains and protect their citizens, let alone protecting international interests in the area.  These countries are asking for military aid.

Oumar 2011:
"The desire of the Sahel countries to improve their military arsenal comes from their situation," security expert Abdallahi Ould Mohamed said, "which forces them to confront security challenges, particularly terrorism and smuggling operations." "It also must be taken into account that these countries, especially Mauritania, Mali and Niger, were seen as the weakest link militarily in the Sahel countries compared to Algeria and Morocco, leading al-Qaeda to exploit that vulnerability and implement its operations with ease. Thus, they cannot address those risks unless their military capacities are developed," Ould Mohamed added.Strategic expert Ibrahim Ould Vall explained, "It is known that military cooperation between the countries of the Sahel and countries with high military experience is very important, and the Sahel countries realized this recently and so focused on strengthening the capacity of their armies." "The threat of terrorism in these countries has become an incentive to strengthen military cooperation between these countries and other countries like the United States… training their armies to track terrorist elements, benefiting from some military equipment in order to protect and monitor the borders, and combating smuggling of all kinds, especially the smuggling of light weapons," he added.
Finally, it is clear that if the Europeans wish to protect their interests, the security needs of the region must be addressed.  The need to address the poverty and under-development of the region is very great but what would be the ultimate cost unless security is improved, and what will be the long term impact on European interests if development is prioritized over security?

EEAS 2013:
An urgent and a more recent priority is to prevent AQIM attacks in the Sahel region and its potential to carry out attacks on EU territory, to reduce and contain drug and other criminal trafficking destined for Europe, to secure lawful trade and communication links (roads, pipelines) across the Sahel, North-South and East-West, and to protect existing economic interests and create the basis for trade and EU investment. Improving security and development in Sahel has an obvious and direct impact on protecting European citizens and interests and on the EU internal security situation. It is therefore important to ensure and strengthen coherence and complementarity between internal and external aspects of EU security.

Sources:

Sahel countries boost military capacity
By Jemal Oumar for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 04/11/11
http://magharebia.com/en_GB/articles/awi/features/2011/11/04/feature-02

The Sahel Crisis: Where do European and African Perspectives Meet?
Institute for European Studies
Daniel Fiott, Hans Hoebeke, Esther Marijnen and Alexander Mattelaer;March 2013
http://www.ies.be/files/2013-02_Sahel.pdf

Crisis in Mali, Congressional Research Service
Alexis Arieff, Analyst in African Affairs
January 14, 2013
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R42664.pdf

European Union External Action Service (EEAS); 2013
Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel
http://www.eeas.europa.eu/africa/docs/sahel_strategy_en.pdf

Security Challenges and the Sahel, CNA Strategic Studies
Sarah Vogler, 2012
http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/research/libya_sahel_security_workshop.pdf

Policy statement on aid and security Policy statement on aid and security
Board of the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons,
meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, March 16, 2008
http://parliamentaryforum.org/sites/default/files/parlforum_policy_statement_on_aid_and_security.pdf

Sahel region countries agree to cooperate in response to illicit trafficking, organized crime and terrorism
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); June 2013
http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2013/June/sahel-region-countries-agree-to-cooperate-in-response-to-illicit-trafficking-organized-crime-and-terrorism.html

2 comments:

  1. Could I say that the aff. is advocating for the status quo?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An interesting question, and indeed you may be able to prove it. Regardless, the rules of LD debate deny presumption to either side, so Neg must still prove their position which states, essentially, DA should NOT be prioritized over MA in the Sahel region.

      Delete

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